While the Trump Administration seeks to create a Department of Education that seems antithetical to the purpose of the Department of Education, appointing someone who’s shown little but antagonism to public schools as its chair, some people are taking it upon themselves to try to personally upkeep what the government seems dead-set on fucking up. Billboard reports that Chicago native Chance the Rapper donated $1 million to Chicago Public Schools (CPS) yesterday — and it’s already earned him Michelle Obama’s approval:
According to Billboard, Chance said that the large sum would be taken from ticket sales for his Spring 2017 tour. The donation was granted yesterday in the library of Westcott Elementary, near where the musician grew up on the South Side of Chicago. There, Chance gave a press conference where he explained that SocialWorks — the nonprofit he started in September 2016 that aims “to empower youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement while fostering leadership, accessibility, and positivity within the youth throughout Chicago” — would also be giving $10,000 to assorted public schools in the city for every $100,000 that they raise:
As a private citizen, as a parent and a product of CPS I’m asking that you guys join the fight with me. Organize with me. Mobilize with me. While I’m frustrated and disappointed in the governor’s inaction, that will not stop me from continuing to do all I can to support Chicago’s most valuable resource: its children.
Despite Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s threat to public education as we know it, public schools are largely in the hands state governments. It was in part Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s refusal to allot the debt-riddled public school system in the Windy City the funds it needs that sent Chance into action (Rauner vetoed a bill that would have given the system $215 million). The Republican governor’s education policies have been criticized as racially biased; Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement, “Gov. Rauner did not create this unjust system, but he has chosen to perpetuate it, violating the civil rights of hundreds of thousands of Chicago schoolchildren and threatening their futures.”
CNN cites a statement by Emily Bittner, CPS’s director of communications:
As a CPS graduate, Chance has shown Chicago students not only the heights they can achieve but the generosity they can share. We also appreciate his strong advocacy for Chicago schoolchildren, who suffer under the state’s discriminatory system of funding, which Gov. Rauner continues to perpetuate.
Per CNN, a lawsuit has been filed by five families and the Chicago Board of Education against the State of Illinois, further illuminating claims of government neglect of schools in poor and predominantly black communities. The Billboard article notes that Chicago’s public schools have planned to close 20 days early this year due to lack of funding, impacting approximately 400,000 kids.
There’s a direct correlation between educational neglect and the crime rates Donald Trump so often likes to cite, specifically in Chicago, as an excuse to tweet threats about instituting oppressive police states. It’s unfortunate to say the least that the people who perpetuate institutional neglect are also the ones advocating a form of “law and order” that renders immobilized communities so vulnerable.